I am saddened to report that Jorge Gonzalez, better known to wrestling fans as El Gigante and Giant Gonzalez, passed away last week at the age of 44. He had been very sick since retiring 15 years ago due to having diabetes.
Born in Argentina, Jorge became the first player from that country's basketball league to be drafted by the NBA. The 7'5" basketball star was drafted in 1988 by the Atlanta Hawks, which were owned at the time by Ted Turner.
After his basketball career didn't pan out, he went to work for Ted Turner's wrestling company, World Championship Wrestling, in 1990. Dubbed El Gigante, he was immediately thrown into the biggest feud in the company as a part of Sting's group, Dudes With Attitudes. He also had several matches against Ric Flair for the WCW Championship during his tenure with the company.
In 1993, he joined World Wrestling Entertainment where he was known as Giant Gonzalez. He immediately got into a feud with the Undertaker and lost to him via disqualification at WrestleMania IX. Unfortunately, he was most famous for wearing one of the worst ring outfits in wrestling history. His outfit was a flesh colored monstrosity that featured air-brushed muscles and strategically placed fur. He left the company later that year and wrestled in Japan until his retirement in 1995.
I would like to take this opportunity to send out my condolences to his family, friends, and fans.